For Odugbemi, Creative Industry Needs Technological Solutions

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Femi Odugbemi presenting his paper

Vanessa Obioha

As the world continues its leap in digital advancement, renowned filmmaker and Academy Director of the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) West Africa, Femi Odugbemi has challenged creative entrepreneurs to adopt technological solutions to boost the creative industry.

Odugbemi presented his thoughts at the Annual Guest Lecture of the School of Communication, Lagos State University which was held recently.

The lengthy and incisive paper titled ‘Exploring the Entrepreneurial Possibilities in Nigeria’s Media Entertainment Industry’ plumbed the abundant opportunities available for creative entrepreneurs in the industry. But as Odugbemi argued, some of these wells of richness are still untapped due to lack of entrepreneurial spirit or knowledge.

While noting the significant ways the internet and social media has changed the way the world connect and interact, thereby challenging content creators to provide more engaging content for consumers, he however pointed out that creative entrepreneurs in the entertainment sector, particularly film need more than content to succeed in the ever changing and competitive landscape.

“Technology must be central to everything the creative entrepreneur does as well if he/she wishes to beat the competition. The path to building a new entrepreneurial culture in our entertainment and media space snakes through a viral understanding of the mindset and vision of the Steve Jobs of this world.”

Given the projections of PwC in its last year report that the entertainment and media industry — which contributed 1.4 per cent to the country’s GDP in 2016 — will be the fastest growing market in the world with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.1 per cent in the next five years, the future almost seemed bright for the industry.

Yet, the filmmaker opined that these projections can only happen when creative entrepreneurs start thinking outside the traditional box and adopt technology to curb issues affecting the film industry such as piracy.

“The odds of success or solution to any challenge in this century is as high as our regard for the power of digital technology. The odds are always in favor of technology. Jumia the online store, indicated in its last year report that more than 112 million people had access to the internet in 2018.

“Also indicated in that report is the fact that were over 36 million smartphone users in the country. Another leading provider of market and consumer intelligence predicts that by 2025 there will be more than 140 million smartphone users in the country. When that happens, coupled with the inevitable fall of data costs, it would be easier to get people to watch films on their mobile phones on a fair subscription plan or some other new innovation that comes along.

“The entrepreneurial opportunities lying in wait at that crossroad between content and smartphone technology is a vast array beyond just streaming platforms. In an ethnically diverse country like Nigeria, isn’t there for instance a genius who could create subtitling software that would instantly serve the needs of films made in indigenous languages and expand their distribution across the country?

“If it is true that at some point Sony, Canon, and other camera manufacturers were shipping huge sales to Nigeria because of the volume of production going on here, how come we are not designing a camera that is customized to our environment and lighting conditions or for that matter, the unique approaches to storytelling that has become our Nollywood trademark?

“If we can design aso-oke for ‘owambe’ parties and produce them from China, surely we can design the equipment used in our creative processes and trademark our designs for profit. Is anyone creating a template of tested and true matrix that can help other countries replicate the efficiency that allows Nollywood films to be produced in the record time it delivers its projects?” he queried.

More importantly, the Voting Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that higher institutions must start teaching students how to be a creative entrepreneur in order to survive in the digital world. He pointed out that MTF is structured to empower young minds to build institutions, corporate entities and brands.

“Time and fate have given this generation unimaginable tools and opportunities for success and prosperity. If we play our cards right — invest right, build the right products, solutions, and experiences — we will change not just the economic face of this country, but also the image of it. The future is stories, technology, and creative entrepreneurship,” he concluded.